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Developing a Community Hub by the Maribyrnong River

Photographs by John Gollings

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Published on Thursday 7 December 2023

Where do you find two 19th-century gunpowder magazines, 10-meter-high blast mounds, two tunnels, a canal, and a variety of disused buildings all surrounded by an imposing perimeter bluestone wall all sitting on 12 ha of land by an urban river? It is West Melbourne's most intriguing heritage site- Jack's Magazine.

Originally used as an active gunpowder storage facility, Jack’s was vacant and unfit for public access or use for over twenty years. In 2015 we were entrusted by the State of Victoria with the responsibility to envision a future for this extraordinary heritage place. Since then, we have invested over $2 million on landscaping, a new entry forecourt, conservation of heritage buildings, new amenities, and new services. As a direct result of this investment, we were able to open the doors to the public in 2016 with a program of tours, open days and small-scale events. To date over 10,000 people have visited behind the bluestone walls.

Our vision is to transform this place into a multi-use community precinct where visitors can dine, catch a live performance, shop and spend a day with family. However, this is a herculean task from a financial point of view given the massive size and condition of the property. As a first step in realising this vision, 3 out of the 10 buildings have been made available for lease as an event and wedding venue. The income generated through leasing will assist with our extensive grounds maintenance program and will be re-invested into the conservation of the buildings. Our priority is to conserve the heritage of Jack’s Magazine while making it accessible and functional for use in the 21st century so that it can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. 

We have been cautious in selecting a tenant who shares our vision for the future of Jack’s, who values its heritage, and who is sensitive to the concerns of the local community. Their planned investment will improve public access to, and use of the three buildings with 10% of the annual calendar being set aside for community use. There are ten other buildings at Jack’s Magazine and these will be leased in the near future to see the site become a vibrant heritage precinct with a mix of cultural, community and commercial uses.

jack's magazine

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